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Hating the Other Party Really Drives Turnout

By: Friday October 17, 2014 3:37 pm

Disliking the Other Party Motivates Voter TurnoutHate is a great motivator in American politics. The more regular voters dislike the opposing political party, the more likely they are to actually vote.

According to Pew Research, 49 percent of Republicans or Republican leaning voters are likely to vote this year; but among those who hold a very unfavorable view of the Democratic party, 65 percent are likely to vote. The pattern is similar in the Democratic base. The more the base dislikes Republicans, the more likely to are going to vote in the midterm.

This is another remember of how the bad design of election rules are enhancing dysfunction and producing bad policy outcomes.

Since our midterm elections are relatively low turnout by international standards, it is often more important for parties to focus on motivating their base instead of trying to win over new people with popular ideas. This means it is to a party’s advantage to dedicate themselves to increased animosity towards their opponents and make it seem like all their ideas are all terrible. This will help improve turnout in their base enabling them to win. Also, since the rules basically favor only two parties, it means a party can afford to do unpopular things as long as it makes the other party look even worse.

Of course adopting the winning political strategy makes it very difficult to work on compromise during the election season, and since we have Congressional elections every two years it is almost always the election season.

If we had election rules designed to encourage as high a turnout as possible through policies like automatic voter registration, making election day a holiday, or even mandatory voting; the incentive to increase animosity to drive turnout will be greatly reduced.

At the same time, if we had less frequent Congressional elections, like most other democracies which have terms around four to five years, there wouldn’t be the same political incentive to keep the anger toward the opposing party revved up all the time.

People of Kentucky Apparently Just Realized They’ve Been Voting Republican for Decades

By: Friday October 17, 2014 9:44 am

This chart shows why the DSCC’s decision to pull out of the Kentucky Senate race was inevitable for months. From Gallup:

Kentucky: Party Affiliation, Including Leaners

Remarkably, until just last year a plurality of people in Kentucky considered themselves leaning-Democrat even though they have not supported a Democrat for President or Senate in roughly two decades and the state has become increasingly Republican in Presidential elections. Despite a vote of over 60 percent for Mitt Romney there was still a plurality that considered themselves leaning-Democrat. Yet when faced with tough choice of voting for either the very unpopular Mitch McConnell or giving Democrats another seat in the Senate, the people of Kentucky seem to have finally accepted they primarily identify with the GOP.

In an era of disciplined political party in Congress the most important factor in almost every federal election is what party a candidate belongs to. We are seeing this realization trickle down to the general public and that is what makes this election so bad for Democrats. Once people accept that, incumbency can’t save Democratic senators in red states.

Many Americans Are Weirdly Indifferent About How the Federal Government Is Controlled

By: Thursday October 16, 2014 10:45 am

This is a poll answer that has always confused me. Apparently a plurality of Americans, 37 percent, still thinks it makes no difference if the federal government is controlled by one party or is divided. From Gallup:

Divided vs. One-Party Governement in U.S.

I find this so perplexing because I don’t know how you could have watched the past six years and come to this conclusion. When Democrats were in full control of D.C. they adopted several big bills. You might love these bills or hate them but they had a significant impact. After Republicans won the House and we got divided government almost nothing happened. So little was done legislatively they actually shut the government down.

Depending on your policy preference you could argue that no big bills is better than the Democratic bills we were getting, but I can’t understand how you think it makes no difference at all.

I consider this poll a strong validation of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy in 2010. Many Americans aren’t paying much attention to Congress and don’t fully understand how policy is made, so if anyone in Congress gums up the works the President will get most of the blame.

This poll is also a reminder that our election/political system is very poorly set up for democratic accountability in an age of disciplined political parties.

Democrats’ Engagement Problem

By: Wednesday October 15, 2014 2:39 pm

Polling shows Democrats lead Republicans for control of Congress with registered voters but not with likely voters.

Georgia Poll is one Bright Spot in a Day of Bad News for Democrats

By: Wednesday October 15, 2014 10:33 am

The good news today for democrats is that Michelle Nunn has taken a lead in the latest SurveyUSA poll of the Georgia Senate race. Among likely voters she is getting 48 percent, Republican David Perdue is at 45 percent, and Libertarian Amanda Swafford stands at three percent. This is a four point improvement for Nunn [...]

Republicans Have Edge on Most Big Issues

By: Monday October 13, 2014 9:52 am

The bad news for Democrats keeps coming. New data from Gallup shows the Republican party has the advantage among the issues voters care most about this year.

How You Know Your Political Brand Has Problems

By: Friday October 10, 2014 11:23 am

A sure sign your political brand has real problems is when your plan for victory heavily relies on candidates who are actively choosing not to associate with you, and benefit because of that decision. That is the case with the Democratic party this year in their attempt to hold on to the Senate. Their hope [...]

Polling Improves for Sen. Pat Roberts

By: Thursday October 9, 2014 10:29 am

Kansas seems to be returning to its red roots. For a while it looked like Incumbent Kansas Senator Pat Roberts was going to lose to Independent Greg Orman, but as we get closer to the election Roberts has seen his polling start to turn around. Two new polls both find Roberts with a small lead. [...]

Democratic Base Is Not At All Enthusiastic About This Election

By: Thursday October 9, 2014 10:08 am

The Democratic base is significantly less engaged and motivated to vote this year compared with the Republican base. Across several indicators of voter involvement Republicans have a double digit edge while Democratic engagement is remarkably low. From Gallup: The only small upside for Democrats is that the enthusiasm gap isn’t quite as bad as 2010, [...]

South Dakota Senate Scramble: Independent Larry Pressler Gaining on Republican Mike Round

By: Wednesday October 8, 2014 10:47 am

The the three way South Dakota Senate race might be very competitive according to a new Survey USA on behalf of the American News, KSFY TV of Sioux Falls and KOTA TV of Rapid City. It found Republican Mike Round leading with just 35 percent of the vote but Independent Larry Pressler right behind him with [...]

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